House committee approves consolidated RH Bill

The House of Representatives committee on population and family relations approved yesterday the consolidated Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, reports PhilStar.com. From six bills authored by 87 lawyers came the bill titled "An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population Development and for Other Purposes." Twenty lawmakers voted for the bill, three approved with reservations and none objected, according to the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines Chair Elizabeth Angsioco.

Under the consolidated bill, the government shall "promote, without bias, all effective natural and modern methods of family planning that are medically safe and legal." Abortion is still illegal but the bill mandates the government, according to Inquirer.net, to "ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner."

According to PhilStar.com, the RH Bill also reads, "Age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in formal and non-formal educational (systems) from grade five up to fourth year high school using life skills and other approaches."

No specific amount was appropriated for the implementation of the bill but Committee Chairman Rogelio Espina said the bill will be referred to the committees on rules and on appropriations. "The funding for family health and responsible parenting will be coursed through the Department of Health and the Population Commission," reports Inquirer.net.

During the hearing, Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia asked the panel to discuss the provisions of the bill before approving the consolidated version, reports Inquirer.net. However, majority of the committee members voted to approve it right away. Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas said there have been extensive debates on the RH bill in previous Congresses, PhilStar.com reports. Under the new rules of the 15th Congress, Espina said re-filed bills that were nearly approved in the previous Congress should be fast-tracked.

When the consolidated measure was approved, Garcia called for its reconsideration but, according to PhilStar.com, he was "ignored as the other committee members already stood up." The hearing lasted for half an hour.

For more on this story, log on to PhilStar.com and Inquirer.net.

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